The Sunshine State may be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but for local residents, it’s not all theme parks and days on the beach. While Florida’s cities may not have quite the same level of crime as places like Detroit or St Louis, they’re far from perfect. In some cities, your chances of falling victim to property crime is as high as 1 in 12. If you think that sounds frightening, just wait till you read about the violent crime, unemployment rates, and poverty levels…. Keep reading for a rundown of the top 20 worst places to live in Florida.
Fancy living in Florida’s Palatka? Then prepare yourself for the worst… it may be a small city, but there’s not a lot of the usual friendliness you’d expect of such a diminutive community. With local resident’s standing a 1 in 135 chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 19 chance of becoming the victim of a property crime, it’s more the “bar your windows and lock up your daughters” kind of place than it is a picket fence dream.
19. West Palm Beach
Beautiful it may be, but when it comes to crime, West Palm Beach is far from a pretty picture. If you move in, you can expect a 1 in 121 chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 21 chance of becoming the victim of a property crime. Granted, there are worse cities to live (as we’ll shortly find out), but it’s still far from a pleasant proposition.
18. Pompano Beach
Somehow, Pompano Beach is a regular fixture on lists of the best places in Florida to retire. We say “somehow” as living in almost constant fear of crime isn’t exactly how most of us plan to spend our golden years. When it comes to violent crime, the stats are grim: for every 100,000 residents, there’s 431.4 assaults, 7.2 murders, 54.9 rapes, and 369.3 robberies. Property crime rates are no better, with 808.8 burglaries per 100,000 residents, 3,264.1 thefts, and 727.8 motor vehicle thefts. Retire to Pompano Beach? No thank you.
17. Dade City
This suburb of Tampa is home to such delights as the 16-acre Pioneer Florida Museum and the charming Pioneer Days Festival. If the crime stats are anything to go by, it’s also home to an alarming number of criminals. While property crime is bad enough (and well above the national average), violent crime is really where residents feel the rub. While there have been no murders over the last year, the number of aggravated assaults (720.8 per 100,000), rapes (97 per 100,000), and robberies (152.5), paints a very grim picture indeed.
16. Lake Worth
With a population of just 4,882, you imagine the small town of Lake Worth would have too few citizens to make up a criminal collective. You’d be wrong. While violent crime has fallen in recent years, property crime is on the rise. For every 100,000 residents, there’s 1,788.3 burglaries, 304.8 motor vehicle thefts, and a massive 6,929.5 thefts (just to give some context, the national average is just 2,042.8).
Orlando, Florida may be beloved by thrill-seekers for its world-famous theme parks, but for local residents, the constant need to stay one step ahead of the city’s vast criminal element is all the adrenaline rush they need. When it comes to both violent and property crime, the city is performing badly, with an average of 458.5 assaults per 100k, 8.1 murders, 64.4 rapes, 213 robberies, 840.9 burglaries, 4125.3 thefts, and 488.4 motor vehicle thefts. If you do plan on making the city your next holiday destination, you’d be advised to invest in a few self-defense classes before you depart.
14. Riviera Beach
Riviera Beach is a suburb of West Palm Beach with 34,093 residents, a great nightlife, nice views, and… so ends the list of positives. When it comes to important things like job prospects, safety, and crime, it’s C- all the way. As one reviewer on Niche puts it, “Overall, my neighborhood is getting worse. It’s hard to find a good-paying job, there is a huge increase in crimes, education is taught, but without passion.”
Ocala, a decently sized town in Marion County, is blessed with all kinds of good stuff: a temperate climate, a good school system, affordable housing, and lots of excellent public amenities. Unfortunately, it’s also blessed with the kind of crime that makes most residents very conscious of keeping their doors locked and their windows barred. The violent crime rate per capita stands at an alarming 783, while property crime stands at an even more worrying 5310. My advice if you’re passing through? Keep your windows closed and your foot on the peddle.
12. Pembroke Park
It may only have a population of 6,347, but don’t expect a close-knit, family-friendly community if you move into Pembroke Park. Violent crime rates are soaring in the Fort Lauderdale superb, with an average of 630.2 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, 31.5 murders, 47.3 rapes, and 488.4 robberies. The property crime rates are similarly alarming, with 1,055.6 burglaries, 3,308.6 thefts, and 267.8 motor vehicle thefts.
11. Belle Glade
With a median household income of just $25,873, residents of Belle Glade are bringing home just over half the salary most US citizens can expect. As it so often does, low income, low job prospects, and high poverty levels translate into a depressingly high incidence of crime. When Niche grades a city a C- for its crime rate, you know something’s not quite right; in the case of Belle Glade, that translates to a yearly average of 1042.5 assaults (compared to the national average of 282.7), 15.6 murders (compared to an average of 6.1), and 41.5 rapes (compared to an average of 40.7).
10. Panama City Beach
While it may fare slightly better than its sister city in terms of overall crime, it’s far from a pretty picture at Panama City Beach. Violent crimes have, in fairness, dropped in recent years; property crimes, on the other hand, have bucked the trend by spiraling skywards. Residents now have a 1 in 13.8 chance of becoming the victim of auto theft, burglary, or theft.
9. Panama City
Move to the small coastal city of Panama City and your chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime rise to 1 in 114. Property crime fares little better. Part of the problem lies with the fact that the area is very seasonal: in summer, jobs swell as an influx of tourists hit the city. In winter, both the jobs and tourists recede, leaving residents with an above-average unemployment rate, high poverty levels, and a median income of just $40,114 (compared to a national average of $55,322).
According to Neighborhood Scout, Cocoa gets a measly 2 out of 100 on the crime index (wherein 100 marks the safest place to live and 0 marks the least). The explanation for such a low score is quickly revealed with a glance at the stats. Per square mile, there are 11.82 violent crimes per 1000 residents. That equates to 1 murder, 11 rapes, 55 robberies, and 152 assaults per year. Think that’s bad? Wait until you see the property crime stats. Per 1000 residents, there are 8.90 burglaries, 39.28 thefts, and 3.40 motor thefts. Given that Cocoa is only home to 18,532 people, that equates to a 1 in 19 chance of a resident falling victim to criminal activity.
In 7th place is Leesburg, a city where your chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime stand at a shockingly high 1 in 97. If that wasn’t enough, your chances of falling victim to a property crime stand at 1 in 17. Breaking that down, that’s 11.28 burglaries per 1000, 43.06 thefts, and 3.79 motor vehicle thefts. With stats like that, it’s little wonder that Leesburg isn’t exactly top of the list for family-friendly places to live.
6. Daytona Beach
You’d think a hot tourist destination like Daytona Beach would be doing all it can to keep crime at a respectable enough level not to deter its hordes of annual visitors. Unfortunately, the amount of criminal activity is apparently just too much for law enforcers to keep up with. In 2017 alone, there were 12 murders. The overall violent crime rate, meanwhile, gives residents a 1 in 91 chance of falling victim to something deeply unpleasant. Property crime is even worse: stick around long enough, and you stand a 1 in 18 chance of having your property stolen.
5. Miami Beach
Miami Beach- a place of sand, sunshine and good times. Or not… stick around too long and you stand a 1 in 104 chance of falling victim to a violent crime (to put this in perspective, the average in Florida is just 1 in 245). Your chances of being robbed, burgled, or having your car stolen, meanwhile, is a disreputable 1 in 20 (compared to a state average of 1 in 40). If you need any more convincing of why Miami Beach ranks as one of the worst places in Florida to live, compare its crime per square mile of 1103 to the Florida average of 59. If that’s not a shocking statistic, I don’t know what is.
4. Opa Locka
16,668 residents live in Opa Locka, and of those, 1 in 51 have been the victim of a violent crime (or stand a very good chance of becoming one soon). Property crime has, in fairness, decreased over the past few years, but with violent crime stats like these, most residents have a hard time finding the positive. Not helping the situation is an unemployment rate of a massive 10.5%, and a shocking poverty rate of 44%. If you have any plans about making Opa Locka your next home, take my advice and just don’t.
3. Lake Park
For a town that has only 8668 residents, Lake Park is surprisingly rife with crime. Fortunately (well, we say “fortunately”…) it’s not the kind of crime that puts the morgue under too much stress. What it does do is make barbed wire and security alarms two of the best sellers at the local hardware store. Stick around Lake Park for long enough and you stand a 12.2 in 100 chance of getting robbed. That’s some pretty damning evidence about the state of the town, right there.
2. Lake City
It may sound bucolic enough, but Lake City is about as far from the pastoral ideal as you could imagine. Residents of this not so idyllic stretch of Florida real estate face a 1 in 69 chance of becoming the victim of violent crime. If that sounds bad enough, check out the property crime stats: for every 13.3 people, 1 will have had their house broken into, their car stolen, or their wallet snatched. With odds like that, keep your doors locked and your windows shut if you happen to drive by.
1. Florida City
Lying just south of Homestead, Florida City is not the kind of place you want to live without a high-quality security system. Property crime is at a frankly disturbing all-time high, with residents facing a 1 in 12.6 chance of falling victim to a theft, burglary or auto theft. The odds of getting raped, murdered, or violently assaulted are just as high, with residents facing a 1 in 43 chance of falling victim to a violent crime. Need any more convincing as to why Florida City ranks as the worst place to live in Florida? Then check out this vitriolic review from one Home Snacks user: “High crime rates and high poverty rates. Many thieves around those parts of Florida. The road work is horrible. There are liquor stores on every corner in some parts of Florida city and I don’t think that’s what the kids need to grow up around. It’s an all-around horrible place to even drive through the people there are always watching you as you drive by like if they want to install fear in you.”